Birmingham City vs Millwall. Sky Bet Championship.
St. Andrew's StadiumAttendance17,206.
Report and highlights from the Sky Bet Championship clash between Birmingham and Millwall at St Andrew's as Benik Afobe scored a late penalty to earn a point for the Lions and keep their play-off hopes alive.
Saturday 23 April 2022 18:31, UK
Millwall's hopes of reaching the Sky Bet Championship play-offs remain alive after Benik Afobe netted a stoppage-time penalty to rescue a point from a 2-2 draw with Birmingham at St Andrew's.
Juninho Bacuna's second goal since joining Blues opened the scoring after only 67 seconds of the second half before Oliver Burke equalised for Millwall from close range.
Lyle Taylor looked as though he had earned Birmingham their first win in four when he slotted home from the penalty spot, but Afobe's penalty nine minutes into time added on kept Millwall's play-off push moving forward.
Gary Gardner nearly got the home side off to the perfect start after two minutes when his free-kick left Bartosz Bialkowski helpless before rattling off the corner of the goal frame.
After taking their time to get going, Millwall finally began to apply pressure to a Birmingham backline that had conceded 12 goals in their previous three outings.
Neil Etheridge marked his return to the squad with a good diving save to deny Murray Wallace before Shaun Hutchinson's strike looked set to nestle in the top corner, but Ivan Subjic was there to deny the Lions skipper on the line.
The best chance of the first half came through excellent work from Onel Hernandez again. The winger fended off challenges from two Millwall defenders before playing Bacuna through down the right channel.
Bacuna raced past Jake Cooper to reach the ball, but his fierce shot smashed the crossbar and was cleared by the visitors.
After failing to make their chances pay in the first half, Lee Bowyer's side opened the scoring only 67 seconds into the second half.
Hernandez capitalised on a defensive mix-up involving Hutchinson and Cooper before his cutback fell to Bacuna, who struck through the legs of Bialkowski.
Gary Rowett's men almost supplied an immediate response through Tom Bradshaw. A deep free-kick handed the striker the chance to volley from an acute angle, but Etheridge read the attempt and tipped it around a post.
Millwall got themselves level in the 68th minute through Burke's second goal for the club. Mason Bennett's looping cross to the back post was headed across goal by Danny McNamara and the unmarked Burke side-footed home.
Blues restored their lead in the 79th minute when Taylor calmly slotted home from the penalty spot after referee Leigh Doughty penalised Saville for pulling the on-loan forward to the floor.
However, the drama continued into stoppage time when the visitors were awarded a penalty themselves after Hutchinson was dragged down in the box. Afobe remained composed and slotted past Etheridge to rescue a point.
Birmingham's Lee Bowyer: "I thought from start to finish we were very good. We competed, we won a lot of individual battles and we had to stand up and be counted all over the pitch, man to man, against a very good Millwall side. I believed we deserved to win the game, but yet again, another decision from the officials has cost us more points. It's never a penalty. To have the performance that we did (last week), to be able to turn that around as a group against a good Millwall side, that was pleasing for me.
"That'll shut a few people up who say the players don't play for me. People talk rubbish. You see that performance there and you tell me the players aren't running about, for me? I think we deserved to win the game but the officials took that away from us and I feel for the players because to turn it around from last week to this week and the criticism they would have taken from everybody. I have to praise the players. Today they were outstanding from start to finish, every single one of them."
Millwall's Gary Rowett: "We threw everything we had at it. We made too many mistakes in the game and didn't do the basics well enough at this stage of the season to pass the ball and open the game up. What we have got is fabulous desire and character. We ended up with Oliver Burke at right wing-back, Tyler Burey at left wing-back and Jake Cooper up front on his own. Maybe just because of that, we deserved something out of the game.
"We've got to take care of our own business. We've got to win those games and if we win those games, what you've seen is teams faltering all around the top 10 and teams with far better squads than ours. But we're still in there because we've got character."